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I Love You, Let's Meet » London Observer puffs pretty prude

London Observer puffs pretty prude

Dawn Eden is hardly the cutting edge of a movement, people of London. (Geez, what a lazy feature. Her book is a “heartfelt attack on the carefree, Sex and the City-style image of modern American dating.” Huh? She attacks an image? From a TV show? For what? Being true? And nobody in the bar was “surprised” at what she said, as they’d come to a debate about chastity). She’s not a vanguard; she’s a memoir writer with sexual issues who got published by a right-wing press.

And I called her brave, but did not say she “acquitted herself well.”

On the other hand, I was surprised at the voting in the Lolita basement: between 2 to 1 and 1.5 to 1 against chastity until marriage. I think Christians were bussed in, but still, it should have been a bigger margin. Plus a couple young women who didn’t seem to be from the Jesus bus took Dawn more seriously than I’d have expected. “Don’t you worry about making girls and young women feel bad about themselves if they have sex before marriage?” they asked her and then asked me to ask her. (Nobody had questions for me except “What if every time you had sex, an endangered species died?” Until that intense and wordy fellow laboriously sketched in his abortion metaphor, I was going to answer that the tigers were currently as safe from me as from Dawn — despite assumptions to the contrary about what a sexy gig it is to debate against chastity.)

My friend who I hope will let me quote his e-mail or who will post a comment, said I should have delivered a knock-out punch at the end. And I e-barked back that I was trying to be nice dammit and I believe more in finding common ground than facing off, that that’s the way to win over the reasonable middle like those questioning young women. But I wonder now if maybe he was right.

I did point out that 95 percent of us, not New Yorkers but of all Americans, have premarital sex, according to the debate-timely Guttmacher Institute Report. But I wish I’d emphasized more how most of us are serial monogamists, and that, as part of modern courtship, new couples spend anywhere from a few months to a few years in passionate lust.

And only then, after that pheromonopalooza winds down, does it get real. After the haze has cleared from what the polyamorists call NRE (new relationship energy); after you’ve weathered some stress and loss together; after you see each other as more than a romantic goal. That’s when illusions and fantasies give way, or should anyway, to real knowledge of a person as a life partner.

Dawn on the other hand recommends people marry from a state of horny infatuation to people they’ve never lived with. I just don’t see this gaining a lot of traction. And I don’t think Dawn, who basically cops to sexual compulsiveness, constant validation-seeking and narcissism, is very representative of most Americans, sexually. But perhaps I’m underestimating the damage a Dawn can do.

9 Comments so far

  1. max on January 8th, 2007

    The idea of commonality you seek to share with Dawn Eden – or in future battles like these – outside of the common courtesies of politeness, might only really be an illusory comfort that you offer to share with yourself. That Pat Buchanan newsletter hack, of the “thought experiment” killing endangered species with unmarried sex, and the rest of the reactionary Christian cheering section, and anyone inclined to their worldview, will not grant you even a millimeter of real commonality. They cannot by faith and principal. To them you are a lost lamb going to hell. Even worse, you actively make the world less Holy by advocating defiance of His word, encouraging others to just “enjoy” sex before marriage. Etc. Don’t forget, VV, these are same people who believe that AIDS is one of God’s punishments, specially cooked up for homosexuals and the rest of you engaging sinful sexual union.

    So, for seeking commonality, your choices tend to be limited to either engaging in theological hair-splitting, on their terms, or demanding a fight in the language and references of this world. You’ll forgive me for using the word, “fight”? But, after all, whether you wanted it, or want to call it that, that’s what happened at Lolita’s. Even with you kicked back on the ropes.

    One useful commonality I can imagine in a fight with Dawn and hers might be found in the established terms of the fight. So at the outset you might seek agreement for “full legal protection of individual freedoms, including homosexuals, to choose sex before marriage”. Catholic doctrine and most Christian teachings in this area, I’m fairly sure, call for free will, so she might have to accept that principal. Then maybe you might have agreed that the interdictions of one superstition, (or “religion,” if you insist on patronizing language), should never hold any advantage over another in law or government practices or in the public education of youth. For instance. These are potentially stable “commonalities,” that the Christo-bigots might be cornered into accepting.

    Working toward abstract commonalities, like legal rights, is better than the individual commonalities, like personal feelings. We all feel badly sometimes in a room full of strangers, right? And maybe worse if we’re pulled in every direction by hopeless desires or other sexual tensions. So that makes it a condition that might be “common.” Still, its one that should be absolutely refused as a basis for any discussion related to, for instance, the proposition you debated, “Should singles remain chaste before marriage.” It has no bearing on the disputed point affecting general behavior, rights and morals. Because this bad feeling has too many potential sources. To use individual feelings as a basis for a general discussion of rights and morals, in a plural society, is an insult to all of the other people who may have different feelings for different reasons.

    Making individual feelings a point of argument in the debate dooms the discussion to a round of sentimental exhibitionism that can only lead to resolutions that forcibly exclude those whose feelings have not been somehow incorporated into the big feeling hopper and satisfactorily assuaged. It doesn’t matter how real feelings are or how much you feel that your feelings are just like her feelings. Our emotions and their origins are too complex and too numerous to parse in any way that can serve the shared commonalities that must form the basis for considering ideals that govern the rights of our public lives.

    Common courtesy, when possible, I’d say is the only commonality you can really hope for in the struggle against these bastard reactionary Christians who are no longer merely poor, ignorant and resentful fools running backwoods towns, laughable buffoons who can be ignored or condescended to, (even with kindly intentions, by suggesting therapy). True, maybe Dawn’s a little vulnerable and genuinely nice and a true believer. But her movement, VV, is not so nice and as you’ve noticed their highest elected official just legalized torture, presumably with God’s blessings, and so forth. What Dawn is part of is not some pesky fringe tendency however fringe “chastity” across US society. Last I checked, these Christian nut jobs have nearly completely taking over our country.

  2. virginia on January 8th, 2007

    Sing it Max! She does keep her anti-choice, anti-gay-marriage bias mostly out of her chastity platform. And she doesn’t suggest making chastity law; it’s more like advice to young women.

    But you’re right to sock it to her for keeping company with scary fundamentalists. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Kevin Walsh on January 8th, 2007

    To Max, let me say that I attended the debate on Wednesday, I have lived in NYC my whole life, voted for Gore and Kerry the last two elections, gay marriage doesn’t bother me, I always thought the war in Iraq was a bad idea, could in no way be considered a Christian nut job, and I agree with Dawn about chastity.

  4. virginia on January 8th, 2007

    why do you agree with her, Kevin?

  5. Fitz on January 9th, 2007

    You seem to be misrepresenting Dawns work..

    Even at the extreme, she can hardly be painted as extreme..

    The vote for “chastity until marriage” would be even higher than what you were surprised by if the question had been…

    Less promiscuity until marriage…
    More marriage mindedness until marriage…
    Or Less serial monogamy…
    Or More of a describable dating culture
    Or Greater common expectations of long term commitment…
    Or Less of a rapacious and more of a wholesome sexual environment in order to facilitate greater and longer lasting marriages….

    And so forth…

    This either/or kind off dialectic seems a bit silly for such a “sophisticate”

    Her message does resonate precisely because the above is so lacking, while your message only resonates because sex is perpetually titillating.

  6. max on January 10th, 2007

    To Fritz:
    It’s easy to share your lament that our society’s public sexual mores and practices fall short of nurturing the “wholesome sexual environment” you desire. In fact, if you read Vitzthum, you’ll that see she is a passionate advocate of exactly what you hope for. I’d say she verges on moralistic in that department. She even sat there at the debate with Eden agreeing that some people should refrain from sex before marriage – if – they – wish – or need to.

    On the whole, it’s easy to see how at a glance you might find Eden’s opposition to sex before marriage a refreshing. But what she proposes is not a recommendation. It’s an order from God. She brands huge numbers of us “sick” and “unhappy sinners.” All surely damned for the affection and physical love we choose freely and most often, joyfully.

    It’s silly and dead wrong to lump all of us in with people beleaguered with sexual hang-ups, like the younger Dawn Eden, who, as she writes in her book, traumatized herself in her days as a kind of rock-writer groupie sleeping with singers and anyone else whom she felt compelled to please.

    Of course any sensible adult would have counseled her, or anyone, against how she, and others, use their bodies in manic searches for a partner, or in obsessive sexual escapism, or to curry favor.

    From your statments, I think you have not read either Vitzthum’s or Dawn Eden’s book. Do you really agree with Eden that, in effect, anyone on God’s blue earth will *always* be emotionally harmed and damned to hell fire for the following:

    Masturbating outside of marriage.
    Sexual fanstasy outside of marrriage.
    Any kind of homosexual sex at any time in your life – because her God and her church do not allow the gay marriage that would sanctify such sexual relations.

    These are the restrictions Eden promotes. If you agree with these – for everyone – then you agree with Dawn. If you don’t, then you probably agree with Vitzthum, who recommends that individuals, with advise from friends and family, decide what’s best for themselves without worrying about what superstious rules interpreted by popes and pastors and the vice squad.

  7. Fitz on January 10th, 2007

    Max

    “But what she proposes is not a recommendation. It’s an order from God. She brands huge numbers of us “sick” and “unhappy sinners.” All surely damned for the affection and physical love we choose freely and most often, joyfully.”

    You say “Surely damned” yet this is hardly a Christian interpretation.
    As far as an “Order fro God” – that sounds rather draconian, but the whole faith resides under a rubric of sin and forgiveness.

    “Of course any sensible adult would have counseled her, or anyone, against how she, and others, use their bodies in manic searches for a partner, or in obsessive sexual escapism, or to curry favor.”

    Sensible adults seem in short supply, If this is indeed valid then why don’t we set (at a minimum) a tone against such escapades. I would observe that society has very little regard for the damages that can come from promiscuousness and treats sex (publicly) as being a consequences free endeavor.

    “Do you really agree with Eden that, in effect, anyone on God’s blue earth will *always* be emotionally harmed and damned to hell fire for the following:”

    No- but I don’t think she says this. Emotionally harmed in one degree or another seems to take place in any relationship to at least on partner, and this “hellfire” line seems unduly polemical.

    “These are the restrictions Eden promotes. If you agree with these – for everyone – then you agree with Dawn. If you don’t, then you probably agree with Vitzthum, who recommends that individuals, with advise from friends and family, decide what’s best for themselves without worrying about what superstious rules interpreted by popes and pastors and the vice squad. “

    You assume to much,

    #1. “advice from friends and family” begs the question.. What advice? That quality of that advice and its recommendations are what this conversation is about.

    #2. “who recommends that individuals” What ever people end up doing they will always do it as “individuals” regardless of advice from friends, family, popes, pastors, or Dr Ruth…

    #3. “worrying about what superstitious rules” – Begs, what rules? Just because something is a rule upheld by religious tradition dose not make it “superstition”.
    (Not eating shellfish is good advice if your wandering a desert)

    You seem to have missed ,my point – that is…
    In A world were…..we promote….
    (as stated – above)
    Less promiscuity until marriage…
    “More marriage mindedness until marriage…
    Or Less serial monogamy…
    Or More of a describable dating culture
    Or Greater common expectations of long term commitment…
    Or Less of a rapacious and more of a wholesome sexual environment in order to facilitate greater and longer lasting marriages…”

    We end up with a more satisfying sexual environment for most people most of the time..

    I believe Dawn’s approach brings us closer to this reality than rehashed, sex positive platitudes with no real rules, but rather mere bromides for the disaffected.

    A world that took seriously what I outlined above would be a world were Christians like Dawn could more easily achieve their ends, and (I believe) would be welcomed by the majority of people as a sane alternative to the non-ethic we practice today regarding human sexuality.

  8. karen on January 10th, 2007

    Oh I’m so mad that I don’t have time to write a lengthy comment here.

    I do have a question, though, for those who “agree” with Dawn.

    Do you agree that sex outside of marriage is objectively bad?

    That seems to be the fundamental question.

  9. max on January 12th, 2007

    Hey Fitz – I’m with you on dumping the bromides and platitudes. Sex positive or otherwise.

    How about we agree to have “society” ban bromides and platitudes all together? Too extreme? Okay. So instead maybe just encourage refraining until marriage. Then “we,” in society that is, would sing platitudes and bromides of chastity’s benefits as wedded couples, blessed by their Superstition of Choice, file off to their forever-chaste beds.

    Agreed on the bromides, but let me ask you to kindly not lump me in with the “sex positive.”

    Sex is over-rated. Especially by you uptight prudes determined to blame “society” for not controlling your ninny, weak-willed selves; for not protecting you from feeling badly about not keeping your legs closed to some meany or not keeping your pecker in your pants with your boss’s horny wife after that office party.

    You, and the sex pos’ nuts, are on close to the same page. For sex pos’ folks, sex is like jumping jacks, as wholesome as jogging along a mountain stream. As wholesome as chastity and the blessed extra-orgasmic sex, according to Dawn, healthfully saved for marriage.

    And Fitz, tell me, who is this “we” that you keep saying is promoting thoughtless sex?

    Even Madonna, leather-strapped and spanked in her pony outfit, says, “Always have safe sex.”

    My advice to you, Fitz: Ease off the “Sex and the City” and “Desperate Housewives” re-runs. That’s make-believe. It’s entertainment made to couch-potatoes sell soap and sanitary napkins. Get out in the world a little. Notice who’s President, for instance, and you might find that the “we” and “society” you fret about are much more in line with your confused notions in favor of increased sexual repression.